By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
“The convergence of Wi-Fi and mobile is imminent,” said Xfinity Mobile’s Director of Product Management Rushi Kothari at this year’s version of Wi-Fi NOW USA in Redwood City on May 17. Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile is right now one of only a few global examples of mobile and Wi-Fi services coming together into a single service fabric.
The newest mobile service provider in the USA – Xfinity Mobile – is using Wi-Fi widely and successfully to serve a growing base of mobile subscribers and expects the challenges of bringing Wi-Fi and mobile services together to be solved within the foreseeable future.
The case for successful convergence
Xfinity’s Rushi Kothari identified the three key challenges to be solved as seamless transitions across networks, consistent solutions for all devices, and resolving unexpected complications from the introduction of new technologies.
“Will native OS enhancements or connection managers provide the right streamlined solutions? Or will link aggregation provide the right solutions for seamless transitions? These are the questions that need to be studied,” said Rushi Kothari.
In summer of 2017 Apple took its first steps towards enabling the adoption of TCP Multipath, a technology that in principle will allow for the aggregation of Wi-Fi and cellular data streams on the device. A similar scheme exists on the Android platform. Independent mobile & Wi-Fi convergence platforms can be provided by US-based vendors Carnegie Technologies or Speedify.
A new kind of mobile service
“Xfinity Mobile is a new kind of mobile service designed to save you money among other things through access to 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the US,” said Rushi Kothari. The company has already demonstrated the high value of Wi-Fi for consumers: Xfinity Mobile subscribers consume an average of 3 GB of free Wi-Fi hotspot data per month equivalent to a value of $36, Kothari said.
He did not disclose the total data consumption per Xfinity Mobile subscriber. According to this source the average US smartphone data consumption is a whopping 31.4 GB per month including both cellular and Wi-Fi components. As of today, Xfinity Mobile offers data plans at either $12 per GB or $45 for an unlimited plan per month.
Rushi Kothari also said that 81% of Xfinity Mobile’s 577,000 subscribers connect to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots at least once a month.